June 20, 2023
BANGKOK – A celebrity lawyer on Monday asked the Election Commission (EC) to halt its criminal probe against Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat over alleged shareholdings in a media company, and to instead sue the activist who had filed the complaint against Pita.
Ratchapol Sirisakhon, who is well-known for hosting a Facebook page that provides free legal advice to the public, submitted his letter to the EC office at 1.30pm on Monday.
In his letter, Ratchapol opposed the EC’s earlier decision to invoke Article 151 of the MPs election act to conduct a criminal inquiry against Pita on suspicion that he had contested the May 14 election despite knowing that he was not qualified to run.
The EC ordered the probe against Pita after political activist Ruangkrai Leekitwattana asked the election agency to disqualify Pita as election candidate, accusing the Move Forward prime minister candidate of holding 42,000 shares in ITV, which Ruangkrai insisted was an active media firm.
The EC explained that the period for considering candidates’ qualifications was over so it decided to investigate whether Pita had violated Article 151 by filing his papers to run in the May 14 election despite knowing he was not qualified.
Ratchapol said an investigation regarding violation of Article 151 could be conducted only after a court ruling that Pita was guilty of holding media shares when he entered the election fray in early April.
“Conducting a probe against Pita for alleged violation of Article 151, even though he has not yet been found guilty [of holding a media company’s shares] is not fair,” Ratchapol said.
Ratchapol’s letter also called on the EC to drop the April 26 shareholders’ meeting minutes from its deliberations if it still insisted on going ahead with the probe. The minutes of the meeting were submitted to the EC by Ruangkrai.
Ratchapol noted that the minutes contradicted a key revelation made in an audio clip from the meeting. The minutes stated that Intouch Holdings CEO Kim Siritaweechai, also ITV president, told a shareholder that ITV was still operating as a media firm but in the audio clip he was heard as saying the opposite.
Ratchapol also called on the EC, if it declined to halt the probe, to summon Kim to testify on the issue.
The lawyer also urged the EC to file a complaint with police against Ruangkrai for filing false charges against Pita.
Ratchapol said he himself had filed a complaint with police against Ruangkrai, but he would like the EC to act as an affected party to file the complaint after the activist filed a false charge and stirred up a controversy.
Pita had said earlier that he held the 42,000 shares as an estate executor after his father died. He said the ITV was no longer a media firm after its TV concession was annulled.